Nothing much to report from yesterday, as it was a day of formal openings when very little was in fact open to the press or public. It was mostly a day of introductory speeches by biennale directors and city and government officials. Frank Gehry presented some models, made a few brief remarks, and then everyone headed for the hallway, where we had our first free prosecco and great little appetizers. Journalists and media types stood around asking about where the best parties were to be had in the coming days (more on this later). Read More
Habitues of the New York architecture scene have long looked forward to Open House New York, the annual weekend in October when the doors to New York’s secret spaces are thrown open in a citywide celebration of architecture and design. Well, now it’s time to return the favor. The 8th Annual OHNY Weekend is seeking volunteers to help at this year’s upcoming event on October 9 and 10. Volunteers would assist any one of the weekend’s many programs, which include organized tours of spaces open to the public for the weekend, as well as site-specific dance and music performances and dialogues with architects, designers, and scholars. In years past, venues have included the High Bridge Water Tower, the Grand Lodge of Masons on 23rd Street, and the Eldridge Street Synagogue, along with architects’ offices, residential interiors, and sundry other venues across the five boroughs. The volunteer shifts will be approximately four hours long, but depend upon the assigned site’s open house schedule, and attendance at one of two training sessions (offered on Sept. 21 and 25) is required.
Leave it to Eli Broad, who is putting up his own museum in Downtown LA, to make a mockery of the public process. Despite getting a great deal on one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the city he still hasn’t shared any of the designs for the new museum. His only nod was inviting the LA Times Christopher Hawhthorne to see the contending models a few weeks ago, and not letting any other members of the press in. Hawthorne, it appears, could not publish his thoughts until after a winner was chosen, and even then his article didn’t show any photos. And the Broad Foundation doesn’t plan to share any images of the winning scheme until after ground is broken. This is a disaster for LA, which will effectively have no say over one of the most important cultural institutions in its history.
Now that the pavilions have begun arriving at the Grand Canal, that other great architectural exhibition of the summer has faded into memory. No, we’re not talking about the one in Pasadena. Or at P.S.1. Not the Serpentine. This would be the Shanghai World Expo, which did have some pretty great pavilions upon its opening in June. Not among them, sadly, was the U.S. Pavilion, in large part because we refused to front the money for the structure, and so it got farmed out. Now, Marketplace has a report from the pavilion that pretty perfectly encapsulates the problems and perseverance of the little pavilion that couldn’t, even how it has won over many Chinese, what with their love with propaganda and irony.
We’ve learned from Curbed LA and the LA Times that John Lautner’s Shusett House (1951) in Beverly Hills is just days away from demolition. The crescent-shaped (and apparently legally unprotected) house was one of the architect’s first residential commissions. According to Curbed, in a last ditch effort the Lautner Foundation is writing the home’s owners, the Mannheims, to ask if they’ll allow moving the house off their property. Of course they need a buyer for the new house. And that’s where you come in. If interested please contact the Lautner Foundation before it’s too late.
Today, Frances Anderton shares her loving tribute to West Hollywood urban designer and dear friend to the LA design world John Chase. If you wish to share your own, friends and family will gather in West Hollywood for a memorial service this afternoon. Technically it’s considered a “celebration of his life.” And in that spirit all are encouraged to “dress as if John picked out your outfit.” That means bright and cheery, to say the least—no architect’s black allowed. We can’t wait to see what people choose to wear in his honor. The event takes place from 4pm to 7pm at Fiesta Hall in Weho’s Plummer Park at on his beloved Santa Monica Boulevard.
UPDATE: Below are a few fashionable pix from the event. The colorful clothes were a perfect tribute that John would have no-doubt loved. Read More
No, not the Fascists—that was 2008, when the Northern League held its national rally at the entrance gates of the biennale giardini. I mean the architects! They have arrived in droves, and it’s easy to spot them walking along the Grand Canal absorbing the searing heat and humidity of August in Venice. The second day of reading press releases, walking the giardini, and visiting collateral exhibitions reaffirms my sense that there is more art in the 2010 biennale than architecture. This is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing, and many of these installations do consider architectural questions. But it makes one wonder why national pavilions make the decisions they do about the architectural conditions in their country. Read More
The Venice biennale does not open officially to the press until Thursday, August 26, and just about all of the national pavilions in the giardini are madly rushing to finish before that date. All the pavilions that is, except sadly the crumbling Venezuelan pavilion, which will not have an exhibition in it this year. Read More
We are coming up on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina next week, and while such milestones are as manufactured as they are macabre, at least in this case it provides a helpful moment for reflection. Half-a-decade out, we seemed to have reached a great enough critical distance for a serious appraisal of what has and hasn’t worked in terms of reconstructing the Crescent City. Documentarians and journalists are already weighing in, so why not the planners? Read More